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Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada

5161 George Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1935/05/29

Aerial view of Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
Aerial view
General view showing its siting on a drumlin.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
General view.
Aerial view of the evolved cultural landscape comprising its star-shaped footprint.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
Aerial view

Other Name(s)

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada
Halifax Citadel
Citadelle d'Halifax

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1828/01/01 to 1856/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Halifax Citadel is a large, stone early 19th-century British fortification located atop Citadel Hill, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The walled citadel is surrounded by an expansive grassed glacis descending to the commons on the west side and downtown Halifax on the east side. It is the most prominent fortification in a network of defensive works that have historically guarded Halifax, its dockyard and its harbour.

Heritage Value

Halifax Citadel was designated a national historic site because of:
- its role in the development of Halifax as one of the four principal naval stations of the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries, and because
- it is an important element in the uniquely complete conspectus of shore defences that developed at Halifax between the 18th century and World War II, to defend British and, after 1906, Canadian interests.

The heritage value of Halifax Citadel National Historic Site lies in its commanding location, in the legibility of its found cultural landscape as a substantial 19th-century fortification, and in the integrity of surviving 18th, 19th, and 20th-century remnants of that landscape. These include all historic resources linked to the landward defence of the town and to the harbour defences along the water that protected the naval station.

Although Halifax Citadel was established as a British post in 1749, the present fort dates from the 1828-1856 period and is its fourth generation of defence works. The Citadel was occupied by British forces until 1906, then by the Canadian military as a detention camp during World War I, and as Halifax headquarters for anti-aircraft defences during World War II. It became a national historic site in 1956 and has since been restored for public visitation.

Sources: HSMBC, Minutes, 1965; Commemorative Integrity Statement.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:

- the evolved cultural landscape comprising its star-shaped footprint, the profile of its built features, its open ground, and remnants of 18th-20th-century military activity including the glacis, the footprint of Fort George, extant historic buildings, structures, site roads, remains and landscape features,
- siting on a drumlin centrally located on the peninsula adjacent to Halifax harbour,
- the open ground that surrounds it (the lack of trees on the glacis),
- the 1930s perimeter roadway connecting the Citadel to the town, and roadways, pathways, channels and tunnels providing internal communications,
- viewplanes to the inner harbour, to landward approaches, to other harbour defences, to the town blocks adjacent to the harbour and those historically linked to the Citadel such as Royal Artillery Park, the Commons, and the Public Garden.

The fort:
- the bastion design with star-shaped footprint and profile,
- functional design, found form, materials and spatial relationships of elements including the parade, south-east and north-east salients, the redan, the south-west and north-west demi-bastions and the west front, fort walls, casemates, counter-mine tunnels and musket gallery, the ditch, ravelins and glacis, south magazine, and north magazine (canteen building).

Defensive works outside the fort:
- the siting, mass, design and spatial relationships of extant military resources on the hill including casemates, north and south magazines, two expense magazines on the ramparts, the Cavelier building,
- the found materials of their construction (primarily stone with supplementary brick as structural support in such areas as casemate arches).

Archaeological remains
- the footprints, materials and spatial relationships of early military facilities including gun emplacements on the ramparts (for smooth bores and RMLs), a barracks foundation, cisterns with a drainage system beneath the parade, a tunnel under the glacis' west side.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1935/05/29

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1749/01/01 to 1906/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Defence
Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

281

Status

Published

Related Places

Corner view

Cavalier Building

Located in the Halifax Defense Complex of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Side of Canada, the Cavalier Building is a three-storey, rectangular stone structure with a hipped…

Side view

Counterscarp Gallery

Located in the Defence Complex of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada, the Counterscarp Gallery’s only visible external wall is that of the counterscarp which…

Exterior photo

Redan

Located in the Halifax Citadel Defence Complex, the Redan, v-shaped in plan, is a plain stone long horizontal structure in two sections and is surmounted by the terreplein and…

Exterior photo

Southeast Salient

The Southeast Salient consists of tall coursed ironstone escarp walls, forming a salient angle, which has a V-shaped plan, and is topped by a projecting freestone coping and…

Front elevation

Town Clock on Citadel Hill

The Town Clock on Citadel Hill in Halifax is a faithful reconstruction of an early 19th century Palladian structure. Clad in white wood clapboard and shingles, the building…

Exterior photo

Defensive Casemates 5-6

Defensive Casemates 5 and 6, located in the Southwest Demi-Bastion, are an integral part of Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax.…

Exterior photo

Defensive Casemates 51 and 52

Casemates 51 and 52, located in the Southwest Demi-Bastion, are an integral part of Halifax Citadel, the star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. Built…

Exterior photo

Defensive Casemates 57 and 58

Casemates 57 and 58, located in the Northwest Demi-Bastion, are an integral part of Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. Built…

General view of the place

North Expense Magazine

The North Expense Magazine is located in the Northwest Demi-Bastion, an integral part of Halifax Citadel, the star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax.…

Exterior photo

Northeast Salient

The Northeast Salient is an integral component of Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. The Salient is a low-massed, ‘V’-shaped…

General view of the place

West Ravelin Guardhouse

The West Ravelin Guardhouse is an integral component of Halifax Citadel, the star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. Steps access the austere,…

Exterior photo

West Curtain Wall

The West Curtain is an integral component of Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. Situated behind the west ravelin and forming…

Exterior photo

South Expense Magazine

The South Expense Magazine is located in the Northwest Demi-Bastion, an integral part of the Halifax Citadel, the star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown…

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